Science in Sport April 2012

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Scientists take Sporting Challenge

30 April 2012

Senior Science Club students have been competing in the Scientists in Sport Challenge, sponsored by Glaxo SmithKline. The competition has been set up to raise pupil awareness of the role of science and scientists in the Olympics, notably in the area of testing for performance enhancing drugs.

The scenario for the challenge is that five new performance-enhancing drugs have been discovered which produce a 'finger print' when different components of an athlete's urine are tested. The students had to analyse how seven different chemicals behaved and draw up a table of results before sending for three unknown samples to try out their tests on.

The students also had to design their own contamination-proof testing kit, complete with a full set of instructions, as well as a logo and slogan for marketing their product and a 2,000 word project report.

As part of the challenge the students were invited to a special day at Kings College on 23rd April. At the event the girls met paralympic athlete Graham Edwards, winner of two gold medals in the 100m freestyle swimming relay in the last two Olympics, and Geoff Parsons a double Olympic highjumper. The girls also took part in two laboratory sessions, had a tour of a museum full of fascinating animal skeletons to see how different animals are adapted to run fast, swim or jump and had a lecture from the Professor of Physiology on how muscles work.

An extra special mention must go to Upper Fourth (Year 9) Robyn van Houwelingen, whose innovative and meticulous project entry has earned her a place at the Scientists in Sport Challenge Grand Final which is to taking place at the Science Museum later this term.